Preventing Falls by Treating Balance Problems
Franciscan Health physical therapists have specialized training in the evaluation and treatment of individuals experiencing balance and gait dysfunction. Our therapists have advanced post-graduate training in the rehabilitation of individuals with balance disorders from a variety of causes, including problems with the vestibular sensory system located in the inner ear.
Patients in our balance programs receive a comprehensive evaluation of the vestibular, oculomotor, musculoskeletal and postural control systems. Based on the findings of this evaluation, our therapists develop a specific and personalized treatment plan to help you make the necessary adjustments to live as safely and independently as possible.
Balance conditions and how we treat them
- Balance: The ability to balance is a complex process that requires the interaction of multiple body systems. The visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems provide feedback about our environment and our position within it. Functional assessment tools are used to develop a personalized treatment plan. Physical therapists can also make recommendations if an assistive device, such as a cane, is needed.
- Falls: Falling is a common and potentially serious problem for older adults, especially those with disabilities. Specific exercises, training and education can decrease the risk of falls and injury. Physical therapy begins with an assessment of overall mobility and factors that affect the ability to balance. These include strength, flexibility, motor control, cognition, vision and sensation. Treatment will involve a personalized exercise program and education geared to address problem areas. The physical therapist also makes recommendations for the home environment and safety issues. Sometimes, concerns are identified that are outside of the therapist's scope of practice, such as cognitive or vision defects. In this instance, your therapist will refer you to an appropriate practitioner to best assist your needs.
- BPPV: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common disorder of the vestibular system. Individuals may experience brief episodes of intense vertigo which may be related to positional changes of the head. It can occur spontaneously or be brought on by trauma. Individuals with BPPV can be successfully treated with physical therapy including repositioning maneuvers.
- Dizziness and vestibular disorders: Treatment of vestibular disorders involves symptom specific, individualized exercise. The exercises mimic the movements that make people feel dizzy and lose their balance. The structured exercise program integrates daily activities and movement principles.